Marnie’s story begins with an accidental crash on her scooter in early August 2009. As we later learned, many Wilms Tumors are discovered after a fall. After the crash, Marnie would occasionally mention that her stomach hurt over the next two weeks, but it did not appear to be an issue as she continued to run and play as normal.
Marnie went to sleep after the third day of Kindergarten and awoke an hour later with tremendous pain in her stomach. Marnie’s parents arrived at the Emergency Room around 10:00 pm thinking Marnie had appendicitis. The doctor’s initial exam appeared to rule out appendicitis and an x-ray and ultrasound were ordered. The x-ray was fine, but the ultrasound showed Marnie had an adult sized kidney on the right side. A CT scan was scheduled around midnight. At 3:30 am on August 28, 2009, the emergency room doctor entered the room and did not make eye contact. This is never a good sign. He delivered the news that Marnie had cancer. It was thought to be a Wilms Tumor. The CT scan had caught the bottom part of her right lung and the cancer could be seen there was well. The cancer was already at Stage IV.
After another CT scan and a biopsy, the final diagnosis was Stage IV Wilms of favorable histology. The original tumor was in Marnie’s right kidney and extended into her vena cava (but not in her heart). She had approximately 30 metastasis combined in both lungs and a mass of infected lymph nodes in her abdomen.
Marnie was given an 80% chance of survival. She was enrolled in a Phase III Children’s Oncology Group Trial which determined her treatment protocol. The treatment protocol required 11 rounds of chemotherapy and 8 days of radiation in addition to resection of her right kidney. Treatment lasted from September 2009 to April 2010.
On May 18, 2010, the news everyone was waiting on was confirmed. Marnie’s CT scan confirmed No Evidence of Disease. A small spot in one lung was determined to be scar tissue and noted to be watched during future scans. To date, Marnie still shows No Evidence of Disease.
The grace of God, a fabulous staff of pediatric oncologists and nurses, an incredible pediatric surgeon, amazing radiologist & technicians, and wonderful family, friends and strangers praying for Marnie brought her safely through this journey. Marnie continues to be a blessing to all around her.
Marnie was incredibly brave and resilient throughout her treatments. She inspired many people. This inspiration led her family to raise money for childhood cancer research.